Micro-loading with Omorpho tights: how does it work?

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Have you ever put on an outfit and immediately felt and looked stronger? That’s what the G Omorpho Tights give you – even if you don’t run a step, you get a bionic fresh boost, like you’re a seasoned athlete ready to train.

The running clothes offered by the new company, Omorpho (co-founded by Stefan Olander, formerly of Nike), are different from what you’ll find at your big local chain. Each piece is weighted with tiny raised beads all over the fabric, designed to make your workout more intense without straining your joints. The training concept they use is called micro-loading.

“Sportswear today is optimized for competition, but most people compete less than 1% of the time,” Olander said in a press release. “We’ve created a beautiful and functional collection for the remaining 99%, using a whole new approach to achieve better results by adding small amounts of weight that don’t restrict movement.”

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Before we get into what we think of the tights, let’s dive deeper into what micro-loading is and how (and if) runners should use it.

What is micro-loading?

(Photo: Courtesy of Omorpho)

Micro-loading, as shown in a literature review co-authored by Erin Feser (now Chief Science Officer at Omorpho), involves adding resistance no greater than 5% of the athlete’s body mass and a minimum of 0.6%. In theory, that’s enough weight to engage your muscles and create stimulus, but not enough to overload your joints or slow you down significantly.

The Omorpho line was developed after three years of testing and research to determine the best designs to load working muscles and minimize the risk of injury.

And overall, the research looks good, finding that micro-loading under the right circumstances can boost strength to increase power by 8% and speed by 3%. But specific applications for runners, beyond sprint training, probably need more study.

There are a few precautions to keep in mind when adding weight to your workout. The trainers and physiotherapists we spoke to warned that if you don’t have the strength to start or you’re not running in the right form, weighted clothing can make your problem worse and cause injury.

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“If someone is overstepping, or running with some type of alteration in their biomechanics, now you’re adding more load to the body as they try to adapt,” says Natalie Niemczyk, Ph.D. physiotherapy, running specialist. technique specialist, strength and conditioning specialist, and running coach with Revolution Running. “I feel like it could be tricky.”

Instead, Niemczyk recommends runners focus on building muscle through strength training rather than adding weight to their running.

Even Feser recommended starting low and slow when first using G-Tights. “It’s that tight balance between pushing yourself to train under a new stimulus but not pushing it too much, now you have to adjust your training for the following days to allow for a lot more recovery,” she says.

How we tested them and what we thought

Our testers tried the G-Tights, which weigh only about a pound, in a variety of conditions: fast-paced runs, trail workouts, hikes, strength training in the gym, and easy walks. We followed Feser’s advice to reduce the intensity on the days we would wear the tights, starting with easy runs and walks and progressing over a few weeks.

One editor noticed a difference immediately when she first put them on, describing it as “a heavier feel in the legs, but really evenly spaced.”

The more you move in it, the extra pound of weight becomes unnoticeable, but you will tire more quickly and may have additional pain the next day. This same editor noticed more pain in his feet after his regular hike.

Another editor wore them regularly for six weeks over the winter and feels better than ever this spring. She can’t say for sure that it’s due to gravity sportswear – it might just be a factor in a really good and consistent training season.

On a very positive note, none of our testers had any injuries to report when implementing wearable resistance into their routines, and one tester credits the pantyhose with making her more form-conscious.

It seemed like the best use case was to wear them on strength training days to add a bit more resistance to any type of running workout.

And while we loved the look, fabric, and fit (even the elevated weights weren’t uncomfortable to sit on and rest on), there’s no getting around the price: $229 for a pair of leggings. But if you want an extra boost, it might be worth thinking of them as workout gear rather than something to wear around the house.

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